Lionel Messi nets Nos. 75, 76; Barca wins
Lionel Messi surpassed Pele's milestone of goals in a calendar year by scoring for the 75th and 76th time in 2012 to move within nine of Gerd Mueller's all-time record as Barcelona won 4-2 at Mallorca in the Spanish league on Sunday.
Barcelona was rolling 3-0 at the break thanks to goals from Xavi, Messi and Cristian Tello. But Mallorca scored twice in four second-half minutes through Michael Pereira and a Victor Casadesus penalty but Messi struck to bring Mallorca's comeback to a halt.
"Leo's records are spectacular," Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova said. "It's spectacular when you think that he scores so many goals. Some few players reach these numbers in seven or eight seasons, he does it in one. And most of his goals are great goals."
This is the latest scoring feat for the Argentine forward. He scored 73 goals in the 2011-12 season for Barcelona, breaking the European club record of 67 goals set by Mueller in 1972-73. He also set a Spanish league record of 50 goals last season and broke Cesar Rodriguez's 57-year milestone of 232 goals to become Barcelona's career scoring leader.
Barcelona's 10th win in 11 rounds extended its club-record start and maintained an 8-point gap over third-place Madrid after its 2-1 victory over Levante. Second-place Atletico Madrid remained three points behind the leaders after its 2-0 win over Getafe.
Messi increased his league-leading tally to 15 goals. He has 20 in all competitions this season.
Tomer Hemed volleyed over for the Mallorcans in their first real attack of note and they almost went ahead midway through the first half, but Victor saw his header tipped round the post by Victor Valdes.
However, Barca went ahead five minutes later. Cesc Fabregas was fouled by Jose Luis Marti with Xavi firing the resulting free kick into the top left-hand corner from 25 yards. Fabregas shot over but Mallorca had a great chance to draw level, only for Anderson Conceicao to head over from inside the six-yard box.
The Mallorcans were made to pay for that failure when Messi gave Barca a 2-0 lead when he drilled the ball into the center of the goal from 20 yards two minutes before the break.
And just a minute later the game appeared all but over when the visitors got a third, with Tello firing home a fine 20-yard shot into the bottom the right-hand corner.
Alejandro Alfaro buried a shot when well placed in the six-yard box as Mallorca looked to make a dent in the scoreline.
And two goals in four minutes saw Mallorca force its way back into the game.
First of all, Pereira slammed the ball high into the center of the goal from Alfaro's right-wing cross 10 minutes after the break.
Just four minutes later, Mallorca cut the deficit to just one goal, Victor hitting a penalty down the middle following Sergio Busquets' handball.
However, rather than Mallorca going on to equalize, the next goal came from Barcelona with 20 minutes to go.
Alexis Sanchez laid the ball off to Messi who drilled a fierce shot high into the top left-hand corner.
The goal deflated Mallorca and it was Barca who came closest to scoring as Messi was inches away from a hat trick when Aouate tipped his shot over.
Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.